Over the weekend, the The Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon 20th Anniversary Project Special Stage event was held at the Niconico Chōkaigi 3 convention. At the event, the Japanese voice cast for the upcoming Sailor Moon Crystal was officially announced. The roles will be filled as follows:

  • Usagi Tokino / Sailor Moon: Kotono Mitsuishi (Sailor Moon, Excel Saga, Neon Genesis Evangelion)
  • Ami Mizuno / Sailor Mercury: Hisako Kanemoto (Is This A Zombie?, Squid Girl, Sound of the Sky)
  • Rina Satou / Sailor Mars: Rina Satou (Blue Exorcist, A Certain Magical Index, Negima!)
  • Makoto Kino / Sailor Jupiter: Ami Koshimizu (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, Jormungand, Kill la Kill)
  • Minako Aino / Sailor Venus: Shizuka Itou (A Certain Magical Index, Gurren Lagann, High School DxD)

In addition, the origin of the new show’s title was revealed. Apparently, the staff were considering about 100 possible titles, but series creator Naoko Takeuchi preferred the “Crystal” subtitle. The new series will begin airing on Saturday, July 5 at 7:00PM local time (6:00AM Eastern, 3:00AM Pacific), the same slot as its predecessor. New episodes will air every two weeks, a change from the usual weekly schedule of most anime shows.

Before we go further, can we take a moment to take a good look at the new character designs that were released?

Simply gorgeous! Now where was I? Oh, right!

With less than four months left to go, we’re finally starting to see the hype train for Sailor Moon Crystal kick into high gear. The NicoNico event is the most obvious factor in this, but everything that came from the event, from the character sheets to the actress reveals, was done with the intent of generating interest in the show. Even the show’s “Saturday at 7:00PM” air time, while not exactly a factor in the west, was likely chosen to play off the nostalgia of fans of the original franchise.

Given the reaction to the news on forums and across social media, it’s clear that the message is hitting its mark. As the weeks go on, and the July 5 premiere date grows nearer, I expect the marketing messages and the general presence to continue to grow. Products will hit stores, trailers and promo clips will flood the net, and the messaging for the show will just grow louder and louder, until it utterly consumes the narrative.

From a business perspective, this approach is a no-brainer. Sailor Moon was a show that not only spoke to anime fans, it created fans. It attracted a truly global audience, that would be eager and willing to not only tune in, but get others to tune in with them. It was a phenomenon that grew the anime market, and reached people who many would argue were the last to ever approach the hobby. Whether the new show will reach those levels is unknown at this point. Sailor Moon Crystal’s performance really depends on whether it can capture that playful, energetic essence that made the original Sailor Moon so special that it could pull in viewers across age lines, and even gender lines. It’s a steep undertaking, for sure, but we’ve already seen that there is potential for greatness.

That said, I’d like to take a moment to reiterate that Kotono Mitsuishi is reprising her role as Sailor Moon. To many, she is Sailor Moon, as she’s played the titular character in everything from the original anime series, to parodies in shows like Excel Saga.

To see her return just makes me, as a viewer, smile. In many ways, it’s like seeing Megumi Hayashibara come back as Lina Inverse time and time again, or Chisa Yokoyama return to portray Sakura Shinguji. In all of these cases, the actress left so much of her personality, her own spirit in the character that it would just seem wrong, in some ways, to hear another person voice the role. Hopefully, as the show kicks off, we’ll see Mitsuishi deliver the same caliber of performance that brought Usagi’s character to life so many years ago.